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Air Force Agreement Allows Ionospheric Research to Continue

View of the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program array with Mount Drum in the distance. Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, AFRL transitioned the site to the university, ensuring that twenty-five years of atmospheric research will continue at the facility. (Courtesy photo / Jessica Matthews, University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, AFRL transitioned the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program site to the university, ensuring that twenty-five years of atmospheric research will continue at the facility. (Courtesy photo/Jessica Matthews, University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico (AFNS) --

Because of a recent Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), more than twenty-five years of science and atmospheric research will continue at the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP).

Although the Air Force will not be funding maintenance of the HAARP facility or other research efforts, this agreement allows ionospheric research to continue.  UAF will maintain the facility and will be offered access to government-funded resources to continue existing ionospheric research.

"The objective of the joint Air Force and Navy HAARP was to conduct basic, exploratory, and advanced development research programs leading to the use of emerging ionosphere/radio science technology for next-generation systems by characterizing the physical processes produced in the ionosphere and space via interactions with high-power radio waves,” said Dr. Craig Selcher, the senior research physicist and former Air Force HAARP program manager. “With the completion of these efforts for the Department of Defense on the horizon, handing the torch to the UAF Geophysical Institute allows for the continuation of the ground-breaking research that only the HAARP facility can perform." 

The HAARP facility is located in Gakona, Alaska, and includes a high-frequency radio transmitter that directs its energy upward into the ionosphere and space, as well as a suite of optical and radio diagnostics instruments.  The research involves the space environment beginning at about 100 km altitude (~60 miles) out to tens of thousands of kilometers, far above the jet stream or the atmosphere that affects terrestrial weather.

According to Dr. Robert McCoy, the UAF Geophysical Institute director, “HAARP is one of four active ionospheric facilities in the world and by far the most powerful and flexible.  The first science campaign is planned for February 2017. Scientists around the world have been making proposals to government funding agencies to support research at HAARP.

“The unique attributes of HAARP are its demonstrated ability to create ionospheric perturbations in a small region over the facility and stable, long-lived ionospheric layers even in the absence of auroral activity.  Its superior location in the subarctic enables over-the-horizon radar experiments, and utilization of the ionosphere as a large antenna to generate extremely low-frequency waves for a number of applications.”

The Air Force Technology Transfer Program Office facilitated the CRADA agreement.  Air Force T2 was created to link technology, the Air Force mission, and the commercial marketplace by ensuring that Air Force science and engineering activities are transferred or intentionally shared with state and local governments, academia and industry.  

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